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Ousted Air Force Cadet Offered Return

February 15, 2003

ELM GROVE, Wis. (AP) _ An Air Force cadet ousted just days before her graduation is considering an offer of reinstatement on probationary status, her lawyer said.

Andrea Prasse, 22, was invited to return to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., where she had been accused of lying about a class assignment.

Lt. Gen. John Dallager, academy superintendent, announced Friday he was voiding the recommended expulsion of Prasse _ but not the finding of guilt. He said in a written statement he believed probation was ``the best and most fair decision.″

If Prasse accepts the offer and completes the honor probation, she can graduate and become a second lieutenant in the Air Force.

The offer would require Prasse to undergo remedial training and mentoring for up to six months, even though she was just eight days from graduation last May when summoned before a disciplinary panel.

Prasse contends she was framed by a fellow cadet whose romantic advances she had spurned. He accused her of taking credit for an engine design she allegedly had copied from other students.

The honor rules permitted copying, but any form of lying was considered a violation and grounds for expulsion. Prasse said she never meant to mislead anyone.

A disciplinary panel of other cadets ruled in May she violated the honor code and should be ousted. She was stripped of her $3,600-a-month commission and denied her diploma.

She and her family hired lawyers and sought to have the ruling overturned.

Eric Elliff, an attorney for Prasse, said Friday she has not decided whether to return to the academy or continue fighting for full vindication.

``What happened to her has happened and will continue to happen to a lot of other women,″ Elliff said. ``If this country cares about having women in the military and serving their country, this has got to get fixed.″

Carol Prasse, the cadet’s mother, said the family just learned about the reinstatement offer Thursday, after all but giving up hope her daughter’s military career could be salvaged.

``This came out of the blue,″ Carol Prasse said.

Andrea Prasse was visiting family members out of state.

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